Ten short stories of rural and village life, and of the trials and tribulations of school teachers.
From the introduction:
“They presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh.”* Frankincense because he was God, but gold and myrrh because he was a man.
The people — gold and myrrh! A clever idea! Was it thought up, by those who are called “wise men”, on the long journey to Judea, or was it obvious?
Oh, in the tents of the East, they knew quite surely bleak and cheerful, good and bad, shimmering fortune and bitter hardship, they knew human fate. Thus the thoughtful mind easily found a symbol — the human gift of gold and myrrh.
For Christ the gift had an especially apt significance, because he was not only a man, but also a teacher of men. And so really gold and myrrh also always lay close next to one another in his life. Here the flaming gold of his shining love, there the myrrh of indifference; here a shimmering seed of thankfully returned love, there the bitter herbs of misjudgement, and ever and ever success and failure, and ever and ever gold and myrrh. —
And his great, tragic lot became all the little ones who are named after the teacher in their masses. Even over their creating, striving and struggling, there often lies a red, shimmering light, bright as gold; but also growing rampantly in their lives — and not the least in their own hearts — are many a little plant, bitter as myrrh.
I have also called you, little book, “Gold and Myrrh”, because you shall tell of the teacher’s life, and because hence the message of joy and the news of sorrow must stand close next to one another in you. — You step out on a long journey, the journey into the land of men. And before you go, I want to say to you, ‘You will share in the fate of those of whom you narrate, what you will also find out there in the land of men is gold and myrrh!’